Office experience – your secret weapon in the war for talent

“Talent can always be bought”

Fewer and fewer recruiters would share such a viewpoint. Sure, money remains important. But many other factors have entered into the equation – ranging from a company’s purpose, to more practical issues such as its office surroundings. Just as overall customer experience has become increasingly relevant, so has employee experience. Employees change jobs more frequently and power is shifting from the employer to the employee. Employees expect conditions that stimulate them to be more productive. To win the “war for talent”, offices also need to take account of the varying needs of different generations (baby-boomers, generation X, millennials, generation Z) in order to enhance their job satisfaction and productivity.

I have personally experienced the impact of different office solutions, both in client settings and in our own KPMG premises. I’d like to outline a few of the specific elements that impact office experience, and that may help you to attract and retain talent.

Community, sustainability and CSR

Company purpose and the alignment of company and personal values have gained in importance, as well as certain aesthetic values. The tasteful use of colors and artwork can support brand messaging and increase employee engagement and sense of belonging. Greater usage of natural light and elements such as shrubs, flowering plants, green moss and living walls make for a more serene experience.

The need for sustainability leads to demands for more environmentally-friendly solutions (e.g. efficient HVAC systems, eco-friendly office furniture and more recycling options). Employees are also increasingly calling for options that allow sustainable commuting, such as (electric) bike storage, showers, and lockers.

Office flexibility

Due to the arrival of more fluid working arrangements (within workforces and across projects) more frequent floor layout changes are required. There is no “single office template” – offices require a mix of open spaces, social areas and co-working spaces (workplace design “zones”). As the nature of work and projects change, the mix must be adjustable.

Efficiency improvements and cost reductions

Although all of the above are important, companies are often under cost pressures. In their drive to reduce spending on facilities, companies often prefer open office layouts with less space per employee. Co-working spaces and shared office services can further help reduce costs, minimize risks, maximize occupancy and increase efficiency (e.g., WeWork-type spaces). To improve productivity when moving into an open office, consider adding quiet spaces (e.g. pods and library-style places). In addition, noise-cancelling headsets can enable employees to focus without distraction when needed.

To sum up

If, in an increasingly unpredictable future, there is such a thing as “sustainable competitive advantage”, then most definitely it includes Human Capital. Even though remuneration and work content are crucial in attracting and retaining talent, the office environment is also an important “hygiene factor” to take into account.